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Recommended Security Measures for Small Animal Centres

Think like a thief. How would you steal an animal from these premises?  If you can answer that question then you have spotted your weak point in security.

Points to consider are:

  1. Do the public have access without supervision?
  2. How many entrances/exits are there?
  3. What is our perimeter fencing like – is it high enough to deter someone coming over the top?
  4. What existing security do I have i.e. CCTV etc?
  5. How do I advertise the animals I have available for rehoming – is it via the internet, veterinary surgeries, poster on trees etc?
  6. Are your staff aware of your security measures?

Let us try and answer some of these problems with practical solutions.  To install simple security measures does not cost an arm and a leg these days.

  • Consider purchasing a CCTV unit and a monitor with some form of recording facility, either a DVR/DVD/VHS.  A CCTV camera can be purchased for as little as £10 for black and white images and comes complete with cabling and an idiot’s guide to set it up. Check out E-bay as they sell them in their hundreds, but ensure you purchase a new one in a sealed box.  If you make enquiries amongst your supporters I am sure you will find someone has an old monitor or recording device they will donate to you.  If you place the camera at the point of entry then everyone travelling back and forth will be caught on camera.  Place plenty of signs warning that CCTV is in operation and make sure your camera is visible but out of reach. Dummy cameras can also be purchased cheaply and look like the real thing complete with flashing LED and who is to know which is the one that really works?  Ensure your monitor/recording equipment is out of reach i.e. in an office or cupboard where it cannot be interfered with.
  • Always restrict the number of entry/exits to the animal viewing area.  Preferably you should have only one entrance/exit as this is easier to monitor.
  • Ensure that anyone entering this area has to get past a member of staff, whether it’s through your reception area or shop.
  • If you have limited staff, then ensure that only a manageable amount of people are in the area at one time.
  • Keep an eye on your perimeter fencing and ensure that there is nothing against it that can be used as a climbing frame to get over from either side.  It is a good idea to place a camera looking directly on to the perimeter fencing as this can act as a deterrent.
  • Advertising your animals complete with pictures on the web is extremely dangerous as most animals are stolen to order.  GSD, Rottweiler, Staffords, Labradors and the more exotic breeds fetch high premiums through the underworld.   We all know it is hard to home animals without advertising them, why not simply get around the problem by stating on your website that you have animals available and give them a telephone number to contact.  This involves more phone calls and precious time but it is far better than having the animal stolen.
  • Never let anyone take one of your animals away from the premises on the pretext of taking it for a walk.  Try and ensure that the animal is walked in a secure area with a member of staff present at all times.

“Prevention of crime is a time consuming business but at least your animals will be safe and more importantly with some simple but effective measures in place so are your staff.”
Anne Carter

The Trustees of Dog Theft Action would like to thank Anne Carter of The Labrador Lifeline Trust for compiling this document.


The UK's National Lost Pet Microchip database and Lost Pet & Found Pet Reunification service. We are here to help stem the rising tide of dog theft and rural crime in the Thames Valley area. With thanks to Dogs Trust for their support. The UK’s largest organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of all dogs. DTA is pleased to support Pet Theft Awareness, a campaign which highlights the danger faced by owners of all pets and horses. Please support them! With thanks to Our Dogs for their support.